Ayelet Shaked .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on the Attorney-General’s Office on Wednesday to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff. Her request followed the surfacing of a video in which Issacharoff claims to have beaten a Palestinian youth while he was an IDF officer years ago.
Speaking on Army Radio on Wednesday morning, Shaked said that “if it really happened, he must be questioned and punished. If it didn’t happen, the state needs to say so clearly.”
If that happens, the representative of a human-rights group that has consistently spoken out against alleged Israeli abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank would be prosecuted by the very institutions that his group rails against.
Issacharoff was recorded recounting the incident a few months ago. Breaking the Silence often cites examples of alleged past misconduct by soldiers to try to prove its argument that the military must take a tougher stand on war crimes violations against Palestinians.
Attempts have been made by various Israeli officials to pin down the NGO with various legal proceedings for years, including allegations that it broke Israeli laws regarding use of classified information, but none of these legal moves has panned out. Shaked has spoken out against the group and put into motion legislation that would outlaw its funding by foreign governments.
Any attempt to go after Issacharoff legally could run into the difficulty of trying to find his Palestinian victim and convincing him to testify in support of a call by Shaked against someone who is now a human-rights activist for Palestinians over an event that happened years ago before Issacharoff “changed sides.”
Breaking the Silence responded that it has existed for 13 years and published thousands of testimonies in which it has unmasked soldiers who described their “use of violence against the Palestinians as being an inseparable part of the occupation.” It has published the testimonies “with the purpose of exposing the immorality of ruling over millions of human beings in the territories. There is no occupation without violence and maybe the justice minister should read the testimonies of Breaking the Silence to understand this.”
It added that if Shaked thought she could undermine the organization by focusing on Issacharoff, “she is very mistaken. The only way to stop us is to end the occupation.”
Most of the testimonies published by Breaking the Silence are given anonymously.